Wednesday, February 17, 2010

REVISED: Dylan Ratigan Understands the Difference Between Weather and Climate, Do You?

UPDATED 2/17/10 10:36 AM (see original post below): So apparently I've fallen victim to the very misunderstandings about weather and climate that I've been trying to shed light on in recent weeks. I'll explain:

While Ratigan was correct, scientifically speaking, in his description of warmer air = increased moisture = increased precipitation, he was wrong to argue (and I was wrong to agree with him) that the massive storms the DC area experienced last week were proof of climate change. As we discussed in one of my environmental science classes last week, science doesn't prove anything, it can only disprove things. Sure these storms are consistent with the hypothesis that global warming will produce more severe weather patterns, but it is important to note that no single storm, no ten storms, no twenty storms would ever prove (or disprove) the existence of climate change because of the difference in time scale I described a few weeks ago. Climate is a decadal system, while weather operates in a much shorter (i.e. day to day) period.

Seems like I got caught up in the "he said, she said" banter that has dominated the climate debate recently. I read a comment on a blog the other day that said something along the lines of, "These [climate/weather] anecdotes are cute, but let's stick to the facts." I agree: Let's let science do the talking and formulate our opinions based on these facts, thereby avoiding the impulse to impose our existing beliefs on what we observe in nature.

ORIGINAL POST 2/10/10 5:26 PM:

Finally, FINALLY someone in the mainstream media has demonstrated a basic understanding of scientific principles. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how some have taken record low temperatures and increased snowfall this winter in the US to discount the impending realities of climate change. I focused primarily on this clip from a Fox and Friends broadcast:

But this week MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan has set the record straight, and he explains why these record snowfalls are, in fact, proof of climate change. Watch below:

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